The story is narrated by a young girl, Nellie from Parthia, a town in Southern Illinois who starts off the story from when she first met Myra. Myra Henshawe was a friend of her aunt Lydia who cared for her like her own daughter. Nellie and Myra hit it right off as they meet and Myra shares near about everything with her and Nellie likes to spend time with Myra as much as she can. Myra was from Parthia but married Oswald Henshawe who held a position in New York. Myra’s uncle, John Driscoll brought Myra up as his own but she eloped with Oswald disobeying him. Myra married for love and leaving behind all her uncle’s wealth. As she grows old she grows bitter regarding her lifestyle and she starts wishing she had never married Oswald.
Myra keeps being chased by her past as she regards marrying Oswald as the greatest mistake of her life. Her husband, Oswald Henshawe on the other hand, loves Myra too much to even argue with her or say anything bitter about her. Oswald works a daily job to ensure a good life for his wife and never complains. But all Myra does is complaining all day, everyday. She refers to Oswald as her “Mortal Enemy.” She constantly blames him for her not at all well-to-do present and she hates him for it.
Marriage is for those who are mature and know what to expect. Myra out of her teenage love elopes and gets married and spends the rest of her life regretting it and cursing her husband. She learns the hard way that money matters too much to her and poverty had only made her eternally bitter towards life and the man who loves her more than anything. She is too bitter about everything in life to even notice the love her husband has for her.
Bitter experience in life has transformed Myra head to toe. She used to be jolly girl whom everyone liked but the bitterness of a regretful marriage and the stroke of poverty turns her into a sick and bitter old lady. As the Henshawes shift to a more modest place, Myra gets sick and grows even bitter. She holds her husband responsible for how her life had turned out for the worse and how well off she could have been only had she not married him out of crazy young love. Oswald only smiles and takes care of his wife.
Nature seems to be the only thing that brings Myra some peace of mind. She loves watching the dawn over the Pacific. Dawn here symbolizes her guilt and hope for a better day. Dawn stands for the start of a new day and a fresh start is all Myra secretly hopes for. She knows how unfair it is of her to treat her loving husband like that but she is too bitter from the inside to be able to change that. She looks at the beautiful dawn and hopes for forgiveness as she cannot forgive herself. One day she is found dead wrapped in her blanket on the shore of the Pacific facing the dawn. Her life ends peacefully looking at the dawn but searching for answers and remaining ever so hopeful.
After Myra’s death, Oswald goes away to Alaska and spends his last days mourning the death of the love of his life. He dies in Alaska alone. The novella depicts a sad end of a loving marriage. In marriage the two people often brings out the worst in each other as the love fades in the face of bitter reality. Dreams shatter and the loved ones become the most hated people who they hold responsible for their miserable life after marriage. This is what exactly happened in Myra’s case who just could not help the way she felt and the person she became.